Sandeep Dutta, Marketing Manager, Korea Tourism Organization

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KTO TO RESTART OUTBOUND TRAVEL FROM INDIA TO SOUTH KOREA

MS. If you would like to summarize the learnings from 2021, then what would they be?

Sandeep Dutta. 2021 has been a year of learning for all of us be it personally or professionally. However, if I had to pick the top 3 things that influenced us, they would be:

A. Collaborating with other brands to reach out to new target audience – With no travel resumption between India and Korea and limited budgets, we went beyond our regular initiatives and collaborated with everyday brands in fashion, lifestyle and food to create awareness about Korean cosmetics, cuisine, fashion and music/drama.

B. Constant innovation is required to adapt to the unpredictable travel scenario – In 2021, we were always a few months away before all borders opened and international travel restarted. But it kept on getting delayed. As a tourism board, you always make marketing plans for the coming month which had to be constantly changed or modified every time international travel got postponed. If you are not able to innovate and think of creative ideas to use your marketing budget, you would not have been able to use your budget effectively.

C. Staying positive is the key – 2021 has been very tough for all of us. Tough enough to make you think that one might not recover from the setback only. However, as they say “there is always light at the end of the tunnel”, it is very important to have a positive and focused frame of mind while undertaking your professional duties.

MS. Top trends in 2022?

Sandeep Dutta. For outbound travel especially MICE, the top trends in 2022 would be:

A. One stop destination with direct flight connectivity will see faster recovery with incentive groups from Indian companies.

B. People travelling for trade fairs may look at new destinations like South Korea to explore new business partnerships for their imports/exports.

C. Overall outbound travel costs will be much higher than the pre-covid levels and hence MICE travel will see reduction in average group strength & duration with preference to short-flight destinations.

MS. What will be your plans for 2022?

Sandeep Dutta. In 2022, we at KTO look at restarting outbound travel from India to South Korea by mainly targeting the luxury travel segment and small incentive groups. In addition to that we will be targeting the fans of Korean drama’s and Korean Kpop music with new and innovative tour products for leisure travel. From marketing and promotions wise, we look forward to participating at the major travel trade shows with our DMC partners and also organize our own roadshow and seminars in multiple cities. We would also be actively build upon the recent popularity of Korean films, dramas, music and food to with direct consumer engagement activities to keep them constantly busy.

MS. What message would you like to give to the industry?

Sandeep Dutta. Our travel trade is a very resilient industry and does not need any special message. I believe that the worst phase for the tourism industry is now behind us and even though for some it may mean starting from scratch, the only way we can move now is up with better and more business.